Temptations and trials are two sides of the same coin, for a single Greek word conveys both ideas. In James 1:2 we are told to rejoice when we fall into various “trials.” But verse 13 says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.”
In a sermon titled “Faith Tested and Crowned,” Alexander Maclaren distinguished between being tempted and being tried. He said that “the former word conveys the idea of appealing to the worst part of man, with the wish that he may yield and do the wrong. The latter means an appeal to the better part of man, with the desire that he should stand.”
Maclaren continued, “Temptation says, ‘Do this pleasant thing; do not be hindered by the fact that it is wrong.’ Trial or proving says, ‘Do this right and noble thing; do not be hindered by the fact that it is painful.’”
God uses trials to make us “perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (Jas. 1:4). And He has promised a “crown of life” (v.12) to those who endure. So when we’re going through a trial or when temptations come, let’s remember what God is accomplishing in us. It will help us to avoid the lure and trap of yielding to temptation.
When you are tested from without
Or tempted from within,
Rely upon the Lord for strength
To help you turn from sin. —Sper
Satan tempts us to bring out the worst in us; God tests us to bring out the best.